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Election

Thailand’s future is dissolving right before our eyes

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Thailand’s future is dissolving right before our eyes | The Thaiger
by Edward Kitlertsirivatana

When an animal is cornered, with no other options, its survival instinct kicks in.

It will fight tooth and nail for its life. With the dissolution of Thai Raksa Chart party, attempts to dissolve other rival parties are in the air. You can smell it.

If they were to be dissolved, desperate measures may materialise. And it doesn’t bode well for the country. I therefore urge those with their hands on levers of power to consider carefully the consequences of such actions and let cool heads prevail over the instinctive “us vs them” impulse.

With each contest of power, the ice-cream cake of economic opportunities is melting away, while our neighbours’ cake is expanding as reflected by their GDP growth. For a Buddhist country like ours that preaches compassion, tolerance and understanding, we use emotions far more than our cerebral cortex. A tragedy.

The biological reality is that most of the people in power today won’t be there in 20 years. But young parties and their representatives, such as Future Forward, will be. Their worldview will likely differ from that of their parents.

Is it time then for a supra-national government comprising all major political parties? For instance, the Democrats may acquire the Finance Ministry, Pheu Thai gets the Ministry of Commerce and Transportation; Future Forward gets the Education Ministry; Pracharath gets Defence, and so forth.

Alternatively, drawing on Malaysia’s constitutional monarchy system, where each ruler takes a turn as head of state every five years, each major Thai political party could likewise run the country and all ministries for five years, after which the next party would automatically take over.

Other parties waiting for their turn will serve as opposition. Absurd as these ideas are, they are better than the cycle of “election-and-coup” we have achieved thus far.

The bottom line: Politics is negotiable. Paying bills is non-negotiable. For the sake of the country’s future, do not corner the Pheu Thai and Future Forward parties.

Reprinted from The Nation

Election

EC claims yesterday’s ballots are safe and secure

The Thaiger

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EC claims yesterday’s ballots are safe and secure | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Pattaya Mail

The Election Commission says all yesterday’s ballots are secure. They’ve told a suspicious media that they, and members of political parties, are allowed to check the security of yesterday’s paper ballots at Thai Post offices and police stations around the country where they are being stored before heading to Thailand Post’s HQ in Bangkok today.

The EC claims that, following the closure of polling stations around the country in yesterday’s pre-election ballot at 5pm, the ballots were sealed in boxes and signed by local EC officials.

The EC, trying to allay fears from voters, candidates and the media, say the procedure is exactly the same as in the past. They say by sending them to Bangkok as soon as possible will prevent any local issues with the security of the ballots.

The advance ballot papers will eventually end up in the country’s voting constituencies where they will be added to next week’s main election day ballots for the big count.

They say all yesterday’s ballots will be sent out to the 350 constituencies to join the other local ballots. Yesterdays voting papers will be escorted by police, CCTV and a GPS tracking system, as well as being accompanied by police escort.

Although the Election Commission and Government turned down the opportunity to host international observers for the conduct of the election, they say the Thai media are invited to monitor the storage and movement of the ballots.

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Election

Will it be same same but different after this Sunday’s vote?

Tim Newton

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Will it be same same but different after this Sunday’s vote? | The Thaiger

Thailand’s military junta, which has ruled the Land of Smiles since snatching control in a coup in 2014, is now trying to bring its leader, Prayut Chan-o-cha, back as an ‘elected’ PM in next week’s election.

The NCPO has cobbled together an ambitious economic plan that’s rests on a 1.7 trillion baht (US$54 billion) spending spree to revive competitiveness in an economy that remains hamstrung by depressed business confidence and investment.

High speed rail links, an expanded economic corridor to the east of the capital, spending on airports and new infrastructure in the capital  – these are a few of the Junta’s favourite things.

Economic growth is lagging its peers in the region, productivity has weakened and companies are reluctant to invest whilst the elephant remains in the room – political uncertainty and a whiff of military tampering.

The return of democracy this Sunday has its own risks. When the official results are eventually announced, perhaps weeks following the poll, there will be some sort of transition from military rule to civilian rule. If the Palang Pracharath party – pro-military and pro-Prayut – is able to convince voters to keep marching along, then the transition will be relatively simple.

If, however, and more likely, that a coalition of pro-democracy parties is able to form a majority in the country’s lower house of Parliament, the transition may become ‘messy’.

The new government will crow loudly that they have a mandate to unravel some of the long-term economic plans, and even the constitution, that was put in place by the NCPO during their half decade in power.

But the military-appointed upper house of review, the National Legislative Assembly, will likely quash any changes to the military’s ‘vision’.

And on we will go – more political uncertainty, more unrest, and potentially, more protests in the future.

Groundhog Day.

Thailand’s establishment elites, principally based around Bangkok and parts of the south, have dueled for power with the populist alliances of former premier (and now fugitive) Thaksin Shinawatra for over a decade, a fault line that could bring gridlock to the next parliament.

Thaksin and his proxy parties have prevailed in each election since 2001, only to be unseated by the military or the courts each time, most recently in 2014 when the Yingluck Shinawatra government was kicked out of office.

The ongoing instability weighs heavily on Thailand’s competitiveness and investment allure.

Thailand hasplunged 10 places on the World Economic Forum’s global competitiveness index in the past 11 years, the biggest drop among South East Asia’s top economies – to rank 38 out of 140 countries in 2018.

The index measures everything from the openness of the economy and quality of infrastructure to the strength of institutions and innovation.

But Prayut has cut red tape, making Thailand one of the 10 most improved nations in the World Bank’s Doing Business 2018 rankings as it vies with neighbours such as Vietnam for investment.

Now it’s the Thai voters who take the next step in this achingly slow politically drama that casts a long shadow over the future of Thailand.

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Election

Thais vote today as registered absentees in the lead up to next week’s election

The Thaiger

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Thais vote today as registered absentees in the lead up to next week’s election | The Thaiger

Around 2.6 million of 51 million+ eligible voters have registered to vote outside their home Provinces in Thailand. This includes over 928,000 who will cast their votes at 58 polling stations in the capital Bangkok.

98 year old Prem Tinsulanonda, the popular president of the Privy Council, also voted this morning despite his ailing health.

The former premier, who served as Regent after the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 2016, arrived in a wheelchair at the polling station at Sukhothai School on Sukhothai Road in Dusit district. It was his first public appearance after reportedly being hospitalised recently.

He waved and smiled to reporters but made no remarks, according to The Nation. He was able to stand long enough to drop his ballot in the box.

As part of voting regulations, alcohol sales and distribution are suspended and political parties are not allowed to campaign near polling stations. Police have also been deployed to secure voting venues and manage traffic.

Advance voting will run until 5pm at designated polling stations, but no results will be announced until after the general election next week.

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